Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

(photo credit to screencrave.com)

((((((( SPOILER ALERT!!!!! )))))))

I had no idea what to expect from this, but I can see now why it's pretty much the most talked about movie of the summer. It was so different than any movie I had seen in such a long time. The idea of combining a graphic novel and video game and making it into a movie was like.... it was....

... a breath of fresh air. 

Let's start from the beginning. Although the brighter-than-life credits were a bit long and jarring on the eyes to watch, I loved how they just threw them at you. The movie starts out with awkward conversation... more conversation.... and then

"WE ARE SEX BO-BOMB!! 1-2-3-4!!!!" 

What a BANG! start to a bangin' movie. 

I've gotten lots of people ask me to describe exactly what this movie is in a nutshell before they go see it. Because I want them to see it and think it's worth watching, I most often refrain from my immediate impression, which was "a fucking awesome video game with a Beck soundtrack!!" Instead, I take a more subtle approach, since Beck is about 15 years too old for a good number of people of my generation to appreciate and most of the people I talk to (myself included) aren't hugely into video games. I tell them that it is the most artistically genius movie I've seen in a while, but it still tries to pack as much action and humor into the mix that most people watching will understand... like watching a video game, but more satirical because you get stuff like "Scott Pilgrim has earned the power of TRUE LOVE!!!" thrown in. 

I think what I loved most about Scott Pilgrim was the honesty in the humor (that and the fact that Vegans are considered psychic :) I loved that there was a Vegan police who would strip away people's powers. "Why is he so strong?!" "Oh.... Todd's a vegan." Priceless). Four guys all sleeping in the same bed at once with absolutely no explanation? Sounds good. Next scene! There was no scrambling to keep up with the pace, no feeling of ahhhh-this-isn't-realistic-so-we-have-to-make-up-some-lame-excuse-as-to-why-it-would-happen. The truth of the matter is that the characters believed everything that was in that movie totally and completely, and so we went along with it. And the absurdity of the humor came through the projection of actualities into overdone scenarios. Sometimes your life does become an episode of Seinfeld, and sometimes people DO cheat without thinking about it. And in real life we often don't stop to talk about it because if you do, something else will bite you in the ass... or stab you, as is the case in the movie. 

I also loved the cuts. There's something about jumpy, unbalanced editing that really makes me happy. Take the party scene, for example: we didn't really ever see a full establishing shot of the party, but instead only saw Scott's conversations with people. And when someone couldn't give him the information he needed, there was an immediate jump to a different conversation. When he finally sees Ramona Flowers, we go from a jumpy, blip-y, fast paced scene to this large, white, empty space with a long, drawn out conversation about Pac-Man. The whole thing had a very role-play video game feel to it: going around and asking people for information until you finally get to the one person who will bring you answers and you fuck it up with mindless chatter. 

I guess what this whole movie sums up to is the concept of life being... well, a game. There are times when you lose, and other times when you win, but most of the time you come to a happy peace with yourself and accept yourself the way you are. This is most likely the cheesiest sentence I've ever written in a blog post. However, it's the truth: when it comes down to actually fighting ourselves, it's a lot easier and healthier to say "You're a cool person. I'll go out for drinks with you later. But first I'm going after the girl of my dreams." 


The Movie Mistress


AMERICA! Where Domestic Abuse is Comedic and Boundaries Don't Exist


The Other Guys (2010)

I get it. I do. This movie was supposed to make fun of Buddy Cop movies, and in most of those movies, there are teams of two men, normally awkwardly paired, that have problems at home, have ridiculous potty mouths, and spend most of their cop careers crashing their police cars through walls. And in that respect, The Other Guys does a good job parodying these types of films. I have to admit that I laughed at the ridiculous scene in which Samuel L. Jackson and the Rock (yes, I still refer to him as the Rock) "aimed for the bushes" and crashed on to the pavement, showing that the absurd antics in most cop movies would end in death if they were actually performed on the streets of NYC. 

However, I cannot watch this movie and, with a conscience, ignore the blatant verbal abuse that Will Ferrel incessantly streams to Eva Mendes throughout. I don't care if it makes fun of the fact that in most cop movies, wives are perfect and submissive and often these glorified, angelic victims (Se7en, anyone?). But to watch Allen Gamble repeatedly tell his wife that she's plain and isn't dressed nice enough for company, to me, isn't funny. It's awkward and uncomfortable. Just because the entire audience knows that she's hot doesn't change the fact that this kind of comedy doesn't fit in this movie. 

I guess what bothers me is that, were this movie a dark, offbeat comedy that deconstructs social norms and uncovers situations that aren't brought to the public very often in an attempt to bring about commentary, maybe the scenes I'm talking about would be acceptable because it would be condemning the behavior and not satirizing it. But who am I kidding? This is a fucking Will Ferrel comedy. The humor comes in watching ridiculously crazy situations that would never happen in real life (as was in Blades of Glory, Elf, and Step Brothers). So it isn't funny that he puts down his wife because, oh wait, THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENS. And in real life, it isn't funny. It's called abuse. Rihanna and Eminem made a whole song about it. The more this kind of behavior is joked about, the more it will be ignored. 

I'm willing to ignore the jokes about a Prius being a woman's car, because if you listen to that and take it to heart, you're an asshole to begin with. I'm willing to laugh at the fact that Mark Wahlberg learned to dance and play the harp ironically. I'm also willing to enjoy watching Michael Keaton spout lyrics to TLC. I'm not willing, however, to sit back and laugh at uncomfortable spousal abuse. I don't care if he tells her she's beautiful later, especially because it's only to get laid. I was also bothered that the fact that she THREW HIM OUT (was I the only one who exclaimed, "Finally!" in the theatre?) was sort of dismissed completely and made to look like he left. He calls her and she says how worried about him she is! I was like, "Seriously?"

And then there was that ridiculous scene with her mother in which she serves as a go between for Allen Gamble and his wife, who are sharing dirty dialogue. I guess it's just exemplary of living in an age where, thanks to the internet, we have absolutely no boundaries. Not only did that sequence last waaaay too long (enough to incite boredom), but by the end of it, I wasn't laughing. I felt bad for the old woman. Not as bad as I felt for Eva Mendes, but still pretty bad. 

I'm not saying this was a terrible movie. As parodies go, it was still better than Vampires Suck (2010) and anything of the "______ Movie" franchise. I did laugh. But I can't see this and ignore what was on the screen. And if you can, either you didn't notice it or didn't want to, both of which I can respect. But if you see the movie after reading this, I just ask you not to laugh during those scenes. Because, in reality, they aren't funny. That's all. 


The Movie Mistress


Up On the Horizon...

Seeing as the summer has (almost) started to die down, I've begun to watch trailers again. And for the most part, I like what I see. Up first, the one that everyone's talking about:

Thankfully, this comes out today, so I won't have to wait long. Score! Oh, and did anyone else see this and think, "Hey- it's Superman!" or am I just a tad too obsessed? 

Aaand, this one I saw last night: 

Even though the trailer was a little long for my liking, it still left me super stoked to see this movie, which comes out in December. Let's just hope they don't make it 3-D. No, really. It's getting old. 

However, as I was trailer surfing, I also found this: 

While I sensed this was an inevitability, it still brings a groan to my chest, as it means the movie industry is STILL NOT LISTENING TO ITS FANS. Seriously- did anyone actually think the third movie was good? If so, please let me know. I mean, I know people who liked it for what it's worth, but be real: I, myself, only enjoyed the third movie because I knew (or thought I knew) it meant the end of the franchise. Guess not. And didn't you just love that they had to name-drop Penelope Cruz to get people excited? 

Oh, and I bet it will be in 3-D. Just saying. 


The Movie Mistress


Which Version is Best? Part II

Last week I named movies that I thought could live up to one another in terms of quality. I got a couple of heated responses, which I enjoy, because what’s the point of blogging about movies if everyone always agrees? After this one, I’m definitely hoping to get more (although someone on my side is always pleasant). So let’s reiterate:

Rear Window (1954) /Disturbia (2007)

Friday the 13th (1980) / Friday the 13th (2009)

The Parent Trap (1960) / The Parent Trap (1998)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)/ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

I already went over what I liked and disliked about all the “contenders.” Now, here comes the real challenge: deciding which, if I had to choose, I would rather watch on one of those nights where you’re just dying to veg out on the couch with a film and there are only two choices in your cabinet (which, in my case, I’d never let happen, although sometimes it feels like it… in that case I normally head to Family Video or the like). So, after a lot of thought, I came up with the following:

Disturbia- Hate me all you want, but I just did not find Rear Window scary. I loved the way it was framed almost like theatre and the vulnerability of the main character, but I found it to lack the intensity of a lot of Hitchcock's films. You don't get the heart pounding anxiety when Jeff is sitting at the window that you do in, say, North by Northwest, when Cary Grant is walking along a ledge above a quarrel trying to not be detected. Anyway, I'm not saying Rear Window is bad- on the contrary, I found it quite enjoyable to watch all the fabricated relationships Jimmy Stewart dreams up in his over active imagination. I'm just saying that when I want to watch a thriller, I want something to make me scared, and Disturbia does that. Maybe it's because the main character has nothing going for him. Maybe it's because it's easier for the neighbor to cover things up in his garage than in a living room. Whatever the case, I would choose Disturbia on a Friday night with nothing to do.

Friday the 13th (1980)- In my last post, I talked mainly about how in the newer version, you get to know the characters really well before they all die. The reason I like this one is because you really don't need to know them. Who really watches a horror movie for plot? Is it really as important as seeing someone with an axe outside the window of a camp counselor's room (even if it doesn't make any sense)? I think not. 

The Parent Trap (1960)- Although the newer version seems to be infused with much more "Disney magic" and is better paced, I find the comedy to not be as genuine as in the original, and to me, that's what matters. Aside from the fact that Lindsay Lohan's accent is close to atrocious, I would rather watch a girl cut up another girl's skirt from behind than see furniture on the roof, and I'd rather see the girls serenade their parents awkwardly in song than see the parents awkwardly reminisce about thirty year old wine in a nasty basement. I'd rather watch the old version because it takes a highly impossible situation that would really never happen and makes it believable, instead of taking an impossible situation and making it funny, because in the end, it's still not possible, and we're just left with chuckles at bad sight gags... and a painful English accent. Although, a painful English accent is better than a painful coke addiction (I'm just saying). 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)- No, I did not like the creepy melting dolls that greet all the children when they enter Wonka's Factory. However, I did like the songs because they were taken right out of the book, and the plot was as well, unlike the old one in which Charlie drinks some weird shit that makes him float on the ceiling. Wait... wasn't the point of the book that he was the only one not to be tempted? Now, don't get me wrong- I love the old movie, for its Oompa Loompas, special effects (since most of my readers know how iffy I am about CGI) and of course, Gene Wilder. But if I want a good, solid, take-me-back-to-my-childhood story, of course I'm going to pick the new one because it's faithful to the message and mystical wonderland that Roald Dahl wanted to create for us. And Charlie's family is actually poor, and actually English. Just like Lindsay Lohan... oh wait, never mind. 

Debate! Argue! Spill some blood.... or maybe just cyber ink. 


The Movie Mistress